A Conversation About Giving

Makeover for an Annual Giving Campaign

I have been working with the Fund Development Committee at a local Montessori school to give their Annual Giving Campaign a boost. Asking for money is hard but funds from giving programs are vital to private schools. I suggested that a fictional character would be able to make the blunt request for donations and message why the money is needed.

This life size loveable figure of Maria Montessori is lightweight and sits in a portable stand. She is primed with magnetic paint so that her eyes- two small magnets- can be moved. She has two detachable speech bubbles apon which her dialogue can be pasted. Her arrival at the school was heralded by a postcard, reproduced around the campus. She came with a couple of 'vintage suitcases' ( painted cardboard boxes decoupaged with old fashioned travel labels) one of which is a receptacle for questions for Maria.

She will soon be given a tour of the local area, meet the local firefighters and  maybe pick up a Starbucks. This VIP is now a much loved fixture in the school and will support and promote future goals and campaigns. She resides most of the time in the school lobby, where she stands next to a 'Giving Tree', constructed also of wood and paper. The tree is a very aesthetic barometer of the Giving Campaign. In the 2009/10 school year a handmade leaf was added to the tree with each donation and a message, wish or name written on it. For the 2011/12 school year the tree was made over to bear flowers with each gift. Maria enjoys jokes and conversation with the inhabitants of the tree. They embelish her dialogue and add humour with their own stories. In all, Maria is very representative of the way I like to work; she has humour, she can occupy any space -the more unexpected, the better, she can tell a story -not just a static piece of art. With her ongoing dialogue with the inhabitants of the tree, she creates a moment of theatre and last but not least, she illustrates how a creative mind can work with everyday materials to produce something totally engaging.

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